ADVANCED PLACEMENT AMERICAN HISTORY
*Despite all the changes in most of the country, for blacks, especially in the South, things stayed much the same.
*Almost as soon as
Reconstruction ended, blacks in the
*Voting restrictions were common. One common form was the poll tax, which required voters to pay a fee. This was always large enough to keep out most blacks, and had the added benefit of keeping out many poor whites as well, although it was not uncommon to enforce the laws selectively. Another restriction was the literacy test, in which prospective voters had to demonstrate they could read, which often kept out blacks, who were usually denied much education by the lack of public schools for them. It was not uncommon to give white voters very easy things to read, while giving something different and much harder to black voters.
*Segregation also became
common after the Civil War. It was first instituted in
*Several attempts were
made to overturn segregation, and the
most important was the case of Plessy v
tried to change things. Booker T. Washington founded the
*Some people criticised Washington's willingness to accept social inequality, calling it 'the Atlanta Compromise,' after Washington gave a speech at The Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895, in which he said that it was wrong—and foolish, and dangerous—for white Americans to ignore the injustices done to black Americans, but in which he also admitted that it was useless for blacks to demand full equality immediately.
*The term 'Atlanta Compromise' was invented by W.E.B. Du Bois, an African-American from Massachusetts with a Ph.D. from Harvard (who did not have to face the constant oppression of blacks in the South, although he did face discrimination in the North, and had once taught in a rural Tennessee coloured school and seen Southern discrimination first-hand) who criticised Booker T. Washington for going along with political discrimination.
*Some of this criticism was expressed in his book The Souls of Black Folk, published in 1903, which said that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line." He traced the history of discrimination from the end of the Civil War to the 20th Century, and he blamed it on failures of the Freedmen’s Bureau (although it had great successes, too, particularly in founding Negro schools) and the national government to really solve the problems of Black folk, but since then on the rise of materialism and the role of a compromiser like Booker T. Washington as a spokesman for Black folk. He also described Black culture, particularly Black religion and music.
*DuBois said African-Americans should demand full equality immediately and that it was the duty of the nation as a whole to make sure they got it.
*Ida B. Wells was one of
those African-Americans who spoke
out against discrimination. She was born
1908, Ray Stannard Baker (a white man) published Following the Color Line to examine racial
relations in the
*Lynching continued to be a problem in the United States for decades, and efforts to specifically outlaw lynching (as a crime separate from murder or manslaughter) were not undertaken by Congress until 1918, and then were blocked by Southern senators. About 5,000 African-Americans were lynched between 1890 and 1960.
*In 1905, W.E.B. Du Bois and other African-Americans who wanted full civil rights right away met at Niagara Falls (on the Canadian side, because no hotel on the New York side would let them stay there).
*They called themselves the Niagara Movement. Their primary sentiment was that Booker T. Washington’s plan of gradual progress was degrading, slow, and essentially a sell-out, as Washington compromised with whites by not asking for too much equality—Du Bois said that Washington’s approach could ‘create workers, but it cannot make men.’ (Washington, though, thought it was easy for Du Bois to take this attitude, as he had not grown up under slavery nor did he have to live with the daily pressures and prejudices of the South). Furthermore, only a few hundred people joined the Niagara Movement, and on its own it never accomplished much. However, it was one of the inspirations for one of the most important groups to work for African-American rights.
*In 1908, a white mob in Springfield, Illinois tried to break into a jail to lynch two black men accused of rape, attempted rape, and murder (who were safely removed by the Sheriff with the help of a local white restaurant owner, whose restaurant was soon burnt down in the race riot that followed and killed seven people). Later, the man accused of rape was proven to be innocent and the charges were dropped; the man accused of attempted rape and of murder was found guilty and hanged.
*That such a race riot could happen in Abraham Lincoln’s home town horrified the Niagara Movement and white reformers, too. In 1909, white and black reformers formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, meant to help African-Americans get better jobs, better education, equal rights, and an end to racial insults. They also began publishing The Crisis, a magazine dealing with issues of interest to African-Americans. The NAACP used the courts to try to get better treatment, and very slowly (over the course of 60 years or more) this approach achieved success.
*The NAACP mostly focused on the middle class, but in 1911 black workers in big cities formed the Urban League to focus on their needs. It helped poor African-Americans buy clothes, send their children to school, and find jobs. Both the NAACP and the Urban League are still active.
*Other groups tried to win more rights and better treatment as well. Jewish Americans formed the Anti-Defamation League in 1913 to protect Jews from violence (which was once a problem—not only blacks, but also Jews, were attacked in the 1908 Springfield Race Riot), discrimination, and racial slurs (some of which are still common).
*Asian-Americans also had
little success in protecting their
*This was seen as a deep
insult by the Empire of Japan,
which complained to president Theodore Roosevelt. In 1907 they reached the 'Gentlemen's
Agreement,' under which the US would protect the rights of
(and not require their children to attend segregated
schools), while Japan
would keep its people from going to America unless they
already had family
there—which led to a new custom of Japanese men marrying
'picture brides' to
create family ties between Japanese in Japan and America.
*This agreement led to the
Root-Takahira Agreement of 1908,
*Despite this, in 1913,
*Mexican-Americans also tried to form groups to promote their rights, but most of those formed in the early 1900s did not last long. Their land was sometimes seized in the Southwest and many Mexican-Americans were required to sign long-term labour contracts much like those forced on African-Americans in the South. In 1911 the Supreme Court outlawed these contracts.
Mexican-American Octaviano Larrazolo was born
*American Indians also formed groups to demand more rights, but the groups they formed in the early 1900s did not last long, either. By 1924, though, the Indian Citizenship Act finally gave American Indians the right to be considered citizens and vote in national elections (although they were still often prevented from voting in local and state elections).